Thursday, December 8, 2011

No. 375: Using a robot to clean ship bottoms (December 9, 2011)

Located in Kita Kyushu city, RoboPlus Hibikino is a venture company founded in 2006. This company specializes in the design and development of mechatronics, and is scheduled to put an “under water robot for ship bottom cleaning” into practical application in 2013. It developed the robot in alliance with Kyushu Institute of Technology and SanyuPlant Service. A trial product is being built and will be completed by March 2012. Demonstration, validation, and drawing a business plan are scheduled during 2012. This may be the first practical application of a robot that can clear ship bottoms in water. It is an automated guided vehicle with robot and able to halve the time required to clean the ship bottom as compared with manual labor.

The robot has two revolving brushes and takes out shellfishes on the ship bottom using them, while decreasing the pressure between the ship bottom and shellfishes. The operator runs the robot by remote control viewing the video coming from the camera installed on the robot. The robot can clean the bottom of a ship of about 30 m long in about 24 hours. Because shellfishes on the sea bottom deteriorate the fuel consumption, it is necessary to eliminate them once a year. Divers have to do the cleaning job that takes several days. It is strongly desired to develop a system to reduce the heavy labor of the divers. In addition to reducing the burden of the divers, the robot can halve the labor hours and reduce the fuel consumption. The price will be about 5,000,000 yen a unit.  

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